Lehigh Hanson's Scott Property Application in Bearspaw
Comments on Lehigh Hanson's Application - Due by November 1, 2020
The County has circulated a notice asking for comments on Lehigh Hanson’s application. Comments are due by the end of the day Sunday, Nov. 1st.
Comments should be sent to: Andrea Bryden, RVC Planning & Development Services
Lehigh Hanson's 2020 Application
On October 6, 2020, first reading was given to Lehigh Hanson’s application to redesignate 600 acres at the north-west corner of Burma Road and Rocky Ridge Road in Bearspaw for a proposed gravel pit. The public hearing has not yet been scheduled.
This is Lehigh Hanson’s third attempt to convert this land identified for country residential development in the Bearspaw ASP into an open pit gravel operation. Their earlier applications were defeated in 1994 and 2010. Since those applications, the County has approved many country residential developments in the immediate vicinity of the proposed gravel pit's location.
The only substantive difference between those earlier applications and the current one is that Lehigh Hanson is now proposing to use an untested conveyor system. Rather than using trucks to transport the gravel it extracts and crushes on the site, it plans to construct a 4-5 kilometre long conveyor belt. The conveyor will transport the crushed gravel east on Burma Road, south along 85 Street to its Spy Hill facility on 112 Avenue in Calgary for further processing.
At its February 2020 open houses, Lehigh Hanson provided commitments that the revised Bearspaw ASP would be a core guiding document for its application. Instead, it is pushing ahead in advance of the new ASP. To reflect this commitment, the local councillor, Samanntha Wright, attempted to table the application pending the revision of the ASP. Her motion failed, with support only from councillors Hanson and Kissel.
Lehigh Hanson's Master Site Development Plan outlining how it proposes to operate the gravel pit can be found here. The material presented for first reading can be accessed here, starting on page 166. Additional information from Lehigh Hanson, including their summaries of the results of the two rounds of public consultations, can be found on its website.
Lehigh Hanson Slams Residents in Full Page Advertisement
In a curious move during the public engagement on its application, Lehigh Hanson took out a full-page advertisement on page 3 of the June 23, 2020 edition of Rocky View Weekly. The ad's tone is troubling since Lehigh Hanson claims its key goal is to work with the Bearspaw community. The “headlines” to the two pseudo-articles are: “Lehigh Hanson Has Been a Good Neighbour” and “Anti-Business Activism and Nimbyism Has to Stop”.
The first “article” is based on an interview with the president of Calgary’s Sage Hill Community Association. He spoke in glowing terms about Lehigh Hanson’s Spy Hill aggregate facility and claimed Lehigh Hanson has been good for the community because it reclaimed an earlier gravel pit into the Inland Athletic Park. It should be noted that when the Inland Athletic Park was still a gravel pit there was only a brief overlap between it and the establishment of what was then the closest residential community, Citadel. Citadel is located on the opposite side of what is now Stoney Trail.
There is a huge difference between choosing to move close to an existing gravel pit and locating a new gravel pit in the midst of an already well-established residential community.
Lehigh Hanson’s contempt for the community is further heightened in its second “article” where they refer to Bearspaw residents as “anti-business activists and NIMBYs.” They assert that “it is easy for the activist types to defame, degrade and discredit those who make a living providing the rest of us with the resources we need to build our homes.” They compare people who object to gravel pits in residential communities to “eco-hypocrites”. Those who object to this proposed gravel pit in Bearspaw are people who already call Bearspaw home and who are trying to protect the lifestyle that Rocky View encouraged them to pursue.
Lehigh Hanson refers to the opposition as “a few residents who turn out to shout down any local growth and development”. In 1993, those “few residents” included over 1,600 Bearspaw homeowners who signed a petition opposing Lehigh Hanson’s first application. Since then, the County has permitted the construction of hundreds of additional homes in the immediate area – meaning even more people will be negatively affected by Lehigh Hanson’s plans.
Lehigh Hanson’s self-serving slant is to be expected; but, when it states “you must empathize for the folks at Lehigh Hanson as they move forward with their application for the Scott property” it crossed the line. If anyone deserves empathy, it is the residents who are now being forced to try and stop this application a the third time.
Their propaganda continues when Lehigh states – “it is important …to look past the misinformed resistance and gauge … projects on their own merits. Let us weigh out all the facts before we contribute to the quashing of good Alberta business.”
Let’s “weigh” those facts. There is no shortage of gravel in Rocky View. However, there is indisputable evidence that silica dust from gravel pits is a serious health hazard and that the noise from gravel operations seriously degrades the quality of life of those who live nearby. No one questions the importance of gravel. The opposition to Lehigh Hanson's application is based on the reality that heavy industry does not belong next door to residential communities.
There is a place for gravel – it is just not close to homes. That is why Lehigh Hanson's application for the Scott property was defeated twice in the past. Earlier councils concluded that this area should remain a country residential community. This is why Lehigh's application should be defeated again - it is irresponsible is to allow any heavy industry, let alone open pit mining, to locate in the middle of residential communities.
Lehigh Hanson's Public Engagement for its 2020 Application
Lehigh Hanson held two rounds of public engagement before submitting its current application to establish a gravel pit on its Scott property in Bearspaw. The first round was two in-person open houses held on February 8, 2020. The second round was on-line and ran from mid-June to early July, 2020. Lehigh used an on-line survey to obtain feedback, supported by material provided on their website.
The summaries that Lehigh prepared following these consultations can be found near the bottom of the "updates and resources" page of their website - here.